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Why Mobile Phone Manners Are in the Toilet

A recent national survey shows that a majority of mobile phone users use their devices in the bathroom. . / Credit: Public restroom image via Shutterstock

It seems you really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel these days to find any positive reports about mobile phone manners. Want proof? The good news that one organization was able to glean from a survey of mobile usage is that 41 percent of respondents said they hadn’t used their mobile phone while in the bathroom. For the 59 percent majority of respondents, however, it apparently was business as usual.

A study of 1,000 consumers across the U.S. conducted in early May by iGR, a market research consultancy, found that 43 percent of mobile users sent or received text messages while in the bathroom, 21 percent sent or received email and 22 percent placed or received a call.

Another 20 percent of respondents played a game on their phone while in the bathroom, 10 percent listened to music and 6 percent said they did something else with their phone, the survey found.

[Emily Post on Manners in the Digital Age]

Women are 10 percent more likely to have made voice calls and send or receive texts, but men are more likely to have used email. Men, on the other hand, are about 12 percent more likely to have played a game and 16 percent more likely to listen to music on their mobile device in the bathroom.

Bathroom usage also appears to be a generational thing, the survey found. Those over 45 years old are 45 to 55 percent less likely to have used the phone in the bathroom, contrasted with the 18 – 24-year-olds who are 60 percent more likely to text in the bathroom.

It also shows no socioeconomic favoritism — the survey found that 1 percenters are as likely to chat in the bathroom as anyone else. Education level also was not a factor.

"This survey shows some disturbing trends and that no location is off-limits to mobile phone users," said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR. "Anyone who has visited an airport bathroom recently knows just how many people are talking, texting and emailing. The survey data shows that younger generations are more at fault and that over time, it is likely that more and more mobile communication will take place in the bathroom."

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.